(that would be me)
I just attended Harry Teague’s Town Hall meeting in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional district. At this particular town hall meeting I came face to face with the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation. I need to tell you, they’re really pretty pathetic as “grassroots” organizers. There really is no there, there. They are weak and incompetent. They got nowhere at this town hall of 250, which broke down better than 2-1 in favor of reform.
While this particular town hall was tame and civil, something Las Crucens can be proud of, others have not been so civilized as ours here in the (not very) wild, wild west. In surveying this nonsense of the atro-turf mobs at the town halls it occurs to me that everything we need to know we can find in the Wizard of Oz… I know it’s a stretch, but bear with me here….
The Wizard of Oz is an allegory, and the author, Frank Baum was a “stalwart Republican.” [Frank Baum, by the way, called for the extermination of all Native Americans, he was such a nice fellow].
In the Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West was the railroads, the Wicked Witch of the East was the banks, the straw man, farmers, tin man, labor, and the cowardly lion, William Jennings Bryan. The important 2 characters for my point here are the Wizard (a certain President named William McKinley) and the man behind the curtain, Mark Hanna.
Remember Mark Hanna? Of course you don’t. He was the Karl Rove of his time. In fact Mark Hanna is Karl Rove’s hero (no, really, he is, you can look it up). The message of the Wizard of Oz was for the agrarian folks of Kansas and other Granger state farmers to stop with their rebellious egalitarian populist foolishness and come home to the “loving” arms of the stalwart conservative wing of the Republicans.
(On message PR delivered trough all sorts of media is not a new concept. Neither is BS).
Mark Hanna was the back room goon who ruled the conservatives with an iron fist. Karl Rove thinks we are so stupid that he tells us where he gets his playbook from, knowing we’ll never be so bright as to look up the master plan. Rove is toying with us.
Hanna had it all, the press, the banks, the trusts, the party machine, the whole establishment shebang. He did everything the right-wing is doing now, today, right down to the astro-turf mobs.
Only the progressives didn’t break and they didn’t crack, they held the line and fought back. (Fightin’ Bob LaFollette made the astroturf “teabaggers” of his time who tried to crash and disrupt his Convention in Wisconsin enter the hall by way of a livestock ramp, single file… like pigs!)
The progressives organized down to the precinct level in state after state, and when it was all said in done, we got an end to child labor, an income tax, primary elections, the breakup of the trusts, Standard Oil broken up into 27 competing companies, a pure food and drug act, and a National Park Service, just to name few of the reforms.
You probably don’t remember Mark Hanna, but I bet you remember the leader who led the fight to finally crush him.
OK, so Barack Obama ain’t no Theodore Roosevelt, but who cares, we got the playbook too, and we know how to destroy the man behind the curtain!
Not only Karl Rove, but all the other men behind the curtain.
As for the health insurance industry and their lobbyists, Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.”
Amen to that!